Government failed to implement half of 10-year-old recommendations, says NSPCC

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The Government has failed to properly implement about half of the child safety online recommendations made a decade ago, the charity says.

Professor Tanya Byron made a series of “urgent recommendations” to help keep children safe online in 2008 – 10 years later the NSPCC claims the Government is “dragging its feet”.

The “Safer Children in a Digital World” review was commissioned by then-prime minister Gordon Brown to look into how young people use the internet and play video games.

A decade on and the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy is in the process of developing a code of practice for social networks – something the original report recommended.

But the NSPCC said it will not include anti-grooming measures as part of its remit.

Of the 38 recommendations made in the original report, 16 were implemented, 11 were not, seven were partially implemented and a judgement could not be made on the other four as the landscape had changed too much, the charity said.

Ideas that were implemented include parental control software, family friendly internet filters and statutory age classification for video games.

But ensuring online safety features heavily in school curriculums and encouraging schools to offer family learning courses in ICT and e-safety were two of the recommendations that the charity says were not addressed.

When the initial recommendations were made, Instagram, Snapchat and Whatsapp did not exist – the three are now some of the most popular social media apps.

Professor Byron, NSPCC trustee and clinical psychologist, said: “The Government said they want the UK to be the safest place for children to be online.

“Yet only now are they starting to play catch-up on recommendations I made 10 years ago, while other recommendations have been ignored entirely.

“The internet is absolutely ubiquitous in children’s lives today, and it is much too late for a voluntary code for social networks.

“The Internet Strategy must absolutely create a legally enforceable safety code to force social networks to keep children safe. The online world moves too fast for Government to drag its feet for another decade.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is behind the strategy, said: “We are clear that social media companies must go further and faster in reducing the risks their platforms pose, particularly to children, and we are considering all options to make this happen – including changes to the law where necessary.

“Making the UK the safest place in the world to be online is a top priority and we are working with industry, schools and parents to make sure there are robust protections in place.”

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